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Game Review: Shadow of Memories

Posted on the 27 February 2013 by Donnambr @_mrs_b

Shadow of Memories (2001)Shadow of MemoriesEike, is murdered in the street His next memory is of being offered the chance to relive his life, this time with the ability to travel in time! You maybe able to cheat death once, but if You don’t get to the root of the cause, fate will catch up with You. Who offers you a chance like this? Why do they want you alive? Who are You really? Do you have a higher purpose?

With the help of a handheld time travel device, Eike must try to change the future.

From the 16th Century to present day, time must be navigated, time lines maintained and paradoxes avoided if Eike is to have any chance of saving himself and discovering his purpose.

What is Homonculus? What is the Philosophers stone? Why would a 16th Century alchemist want it? Why is someone so keen you should live? Why is someone so keen you should die? What happens if you leave people in there wrong time?

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Review: Shadow of Memories (PS2)

Time travel has always been a popular theme whether it’s Michael J Fox leaving a trail of burning tire prints in Back to the Future or Tom Cruise scouring the timelines for would be criminals in Minority Report. In 2001 Konami released Shadow of Memories, which explored not only the possibility of changing one’s fate but also the consequences such paradoxes could bestow upon time.

The story begins unconventionally with our hero, Eike, leaving a cafe and being stabbed in a town square. Awaking in “Darkness” – what appears to be a gateway between the living and the dead – Eike is greeted by a mysterious figure named Homunculus who gives him a time-travelling device known as a Digipad and returns Eike to life, a mere 30 minutes before his murder. What follows is an intriguing test for Eike who must firstly prevent his death and then uncover the secret and motive of his unseen assailant.

Shadow of Memories is divided into eight chapters and covers four years in history – 2001, 1980, 1902 and 1580 – with each year all taking place in the same town and contributing to the attempted murder of Eike. In each chapter Eike meets an untimely demise but through time travel can orchestrate ways to prevent his many deaths. There is a specified time limit for Eike to solve the puzzles and thwart his assailant’s plans. If the time in the present day reaches the point of Eike’s latest death then he will once again return to “Darkness” where Homunculus will permit him to try and solve the chapter again. However, if Eike is in a different time period when the deadline is reached he will be hurled into limbo and the game is over, so the option of taking things easy is not on offer here. At the start of each chapter Homunculus will offer some tips on changing your fate, but it is up to Eike to interact with the locals and his surroundings in amending not just his own destiny but that of the town itself.

The town setting is quite small with the list of shops and other buildings remaining similar even when Eike travels all the way back to the 16th century, so navigation shouldn’t be too much of a problem. In order to time travel the Digipad requires the use of energy units which can be found scattered throughout the town. Keeping your stock replenished is crucial, however, for if you run out Eike will be unable to time travel. The Digipad and your map of the town are the most useful items you will encounter but other objects can be acquired for your inventory and their usage is not restricted to the time period they are obtained in. For example, in one scenario Eike cannot open a locked door but by obtaining a key from the past he is able to bring it to the present day. Items also play their part in preventing Eike from being murdered, so there is plenty here for those who love puzzles and with the time limits in each chapter, there is added pressure to the overall experience.

Shadow of Memories suffers from few faults. Though some of the puzzles can be difficult to decipher it will only take a few hours to complete. This brevity is counterbalanced, however, by the game having six possible endings with the best conclusion open to delightful debate. It offers a compelling story where the mysteries slowly unravel, while the links to the distant past will keep you guessing right up to the end, so the six endings are worth pursuing.

Shadow of Memories remains a clever and engaging puzzler. A game where the numerous deaths of the hero is paramount to the story is a refreshingly different angle to take, while time travel offers the same thought-provoking ‘what if’ questions that other films/games have successfully achieved in exploring this theme. Though Shadow of Memories is unfortunately short, the multiple endings and now the possibility of picking this up at a bargain price make it well worth a look.

Final Score: 4/5

Game Review: Shadow of Memories | Thank you for reading Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dave

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